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Tonight, I’m trying really hard to remember the spirit of the season. And yet, I am perturbed. Angry, even.

A couple of years ago, we had a fire at my townhouse complex. Two units gutted, one with extensive smoke and water damage. The people that lived in those units just moved back in a couple of weeks ago.

The culprit? The elderly man in the end unit who was cold (in the middle of August) and turned a space heater on and it caught fire. No one’s really sure if the heater got too close to something or if it short-circuited or what. There’s no blame anywhere.

A little backstory: the couple in that unit, the man and his wife, are elderly. She is often gone, visiting her grandkids (another story :sigh:). He is left alone.

Oh and the year before the fire, he was diagnosed with dementia. It was harmless, really, before the fire. He’d grouse at people parking in the visitors parking, grouse at people driving too fast in the complex, etc. And then the fire. His wife had said he wouldn’t be back – that she was getting help for him.

Today, Darren came upstairs and said there were firetrucks outside. I immediately went to the window to ogle the firemen. Unfortunately, they were pulling away. I went upstairs to get some diapers so we could go out and from the upstairs window, I saw the fire supervisor’s truck still there. I figured they were conducting some sort of inspection on the newly-repaired units.

We packed up and went out. When we pulled out of the garage, we noticed there was a second truck, some firefighters putting away some equipment, and the old man from that unit wandering around. Our neighbours 2 doors down were out and watching.

On the way to Costco, I informed Darren that if our family (especially the Poptart) was hurt because of something the old man did, there would be hell to pay. He agreed with me.

Apparently, the wife had gone out and he was going to boil some water. So he put a kettle on their gas stove.

It was an electric kettle. You know, the kind with the plastic outside and the base it sits on that you switch on to boil (no stove needed)?

Another neighbour heard the fire alarm, called 911 and then went in to get him. He was in the kitchen, watching, and refusing to leave because he didn’t think it would get any bigger. Apparently the flames were already at the fan. The neighbour is having breathing problems because of inhaling poisonous fumes from the burning plastic and was on 100% oxygen for a couple of hours.

The wife came home, was told what happened, and left him at home alone again. TWICE IN THE SAME AFTERNOON.

That’s when the 2 doors down neighbours called the police to see what could be done. They sent someone by to do an evaluation.

And so, I am feeling perturbed at the moment. As Darren says, the old man has proven, at least twice, that he does stupid shit when he’s left alone. And his wife refuses to recognize this.

I can only hope that at this point, she will get the help she needs.

Because really, if it happens again, I’m not the only one who will be uncharitable.

Over the weekend it hit almost 40 degrees out here. It was really hot.

On Monday, the winds picked up, blowing all over the place.

On Tuesday morning, there was only a little wind and it was substantially cooler. At about 11:30am, a fire started in my townhouse complex.

The flames were 50 feet high – high enough for the fire fighters to see from the fire station. They were on their way even before the emergency calls went in.

Two units are gutted. A third has smoke and water damage. That third unit is directly across from us.



If it hadn’t cooled off…

If the winds hadn’t quit…

If the flames hadn’t been that high…

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  • Comments Off on How To Have a Heart Attack

Step 1: go to the gym at lunch. Work harder than you have in weeks. Perhaps months. Shower and change.

Step 2: get back to the office. Pick up voicemail from neighbour that says, “There was a HUGE fire at the townhouse complex today, but your unit is JUST FINE.” Think, “Oh. My. I should phone Darren” and “Well, neighbour is more Type A than myself and is prone to hyperbole.”

Step 3: Phone Darren. Tell him about fire and that you’ll try to hop an earlier train. Attempt not to hyperventilate. Phone insurance company that called you on the 16th to remind you that your house insurance expires on August 23. Give them credit card number. Attempt not to hyperventilate.

Step 4: Negotiate usage of banked overtime with boss’ boss because the manager is in the bathroom. Do this without hyperventilating. Tell last remaining coworker you need to leave early because of, oh, FIRE; coworker notices you are beet red. Hop bus to train, hop train. Answer Darren’s phone call (who is now home) saying our unit is fine, but two of the three units across the way are badly damaged and a third has smoke and water damage. Attempt not to hyperventilate. Notice the air circulation and air con on the train has gone out. Phone Darren two stops before mine for a ride.

Step 5: Debark, hop in car, and drive home. Park 2 blocks away because entrance to complex is blocked by a firetruck (and firemen, of course – which is always nice, and there was even a lady fireperson for the boys) and the restoration people. Notice that 2 of the 3 damaged units are COMPLETELY GUTTED.

Step 6: Notice neighbours have set up outdoor bar. Help self liberally to wine. Order pizza. Eat. Join neighbours again at outdoor bar. Watch firemen looking for hotspots. Inform firemen who remain that if they need the bathroom your door is open.

And if you want some video, it made the local news here.

I think I may go in late to work tomorrow.

July 2020


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